Hall of Presidents

History 101 with the Hall of Presidents

Hall of Presidents The Hall of Presidents, located in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom, is one of the best educational exhibits you can find at Walt Disney World.  As we saw in Theresa’s article on Tuesday, the Hall of Presidents can play an instrumental role in Learning at Walt Disney World!

When the idea of the Hall of Presidents came about, Walt originally wanted to call it “One Nation Under God” for Disneyland.  While the idea wasn’t able to come to fruition entirely, “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” was created — first at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and then opened in Disneyland on July 18, 1965.

After Walt’s death on December 15, 1966, the Imagineers were able to come up with the idea of Liberty Square — the thought process being that since Walt Disney World was so much closer to New Orleans then Disneyland, that there would be no need to have a New Orleans Square at the Magic Kingdom.  Additionally, it was decided that this canvas would be the perfect place to resurrect Walt’s idea of “One Nation Under God” — but under the slightly different name of the Hall of Presidents.

To me, what really makes the Hall of Presidents is the Audio-Animatronic likenesses of each of the Presidents of the United States.  This is incredibly cool to me because the Presidents are so realistic — some of them speak, they all move in some form or fashion, and even when the camera isn’t panned on them, you can still see movements, almost as if the characters are talking to one another!

The film that plays prior to the appearance of the Presidents is great, also, and full of a rich history of what makes our country great — but for this writer, it’s the Presidents themselves that really set this attraction apart.

So what do you think about the Hall of Presidents?  Why don’t you leave me a comment below, and thanks for stopping by!

The Incredible Haunted Mansion!

The Haunted Mansion

As we continue our look at all the incredible detail that the attractions of Walt Disney World entail, today we are taking a look at another of the Opening Day attractions — The Haunted Mansion!

As you all know, the Haunted Mansion opened on October 1, 1971.  While it is fairly similar to the attraction at Disneyland, there are some very distinct differences.  For example, the Mansion at Disneyland is located in New Orleans Square, while the one at the Magic Kingdom is located in Liberty Square.  As a result of the different lands they occupy, the time period and decor of the mansion is entirely different.

Technically, both rides utilize the classic “Doom Buggy” car to take you on your tour of the mansion, but what you might not know is that the stretching room that you enter at the beginning of your experience operates differently!  In the Magic Kingdom, the stretching room, while it gives the illusion of movement, doesn’t actually transport you anywhere — it is just the ceiling that raises.  However, at the Disneyland version of the ride, the stretching room actually transports you down to the next level, very much like an elevator.  That sounds so cool!

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Did you know that the Haunted Mansion used to house FastPass machines?  I don’t think they were utilized for a very long time, it was probably more of a test than anything.  Lately, though, the Magic Kingdom and the Imagineers redid the queue line for the Haunted Mansion, and they turned it into two lines — one that takes you through the “interactive queue” and a second line that takes you right into the ride itself.  Obviously the interactive queue is a slower moving line because there are other things to do and see, if you haven’t experienced that it might be helpful to experience that once, then just go through the faster line to get onto the ride itself.

I was privileged to do a series of posts with my friends Terri from WDW Hints and Jonathan from Mouse and Memos back in July.  There are a whole number of different things to discover about this classic Disney attraction.  Jonathan, in particular, wrote a much more in-depth narration about the history of the Haunted Mansion, take a look at it for all sorts of details!  Also, Terri wrote about how the storyline evolved — this was something she learned during a Keys to the Kingdom tour back in 2005.  Check it out — it’s a great read!  I know that I’ve barely scratched the surface here, but I hope you’ve enjoyed your ride!  Now, to finish it off, which Hitchhiking Ghost did you get on your Doom Buggy?  Let me know in the comments, and thanks!

The Country Goodness of the Country Bear Jamboree

IMG_4045 As we continue our look at what makes the attractions of Disney the most unique of any theme parks, today we are going to look at another of the opening day attractions for the Magic Kingdom — the Country Bear Jamboree.

Country Bear Jamboree Origins

The Country Bear Jamboree was originally slated for installation at Disney’s Mineral King Ski Resort, which was a project Walt Disney was working on in the mid 60s.  The thought behind it was that the ski resort would need a show of some sort, and since it is the mountains, a bear themed show would fit in perfectly with the lodge and the concept.  As a result, Walt Disney assigned the project to Marc Davis, one of Walt’s Nine Old Men.

As the story is told, one day Walt Disney walked into Marc Davis’ office, where Davis was working on drawings for the Country Bear Jamboree.  Walt took a look at the drawings and laughed because he loved how it was working out.  Then, on his way out of the office, he turned and told Marc Davis “Good-bye.” — which was something he never did.  A few days later, on December 15, 1966, Walt Disney passed away, and that meeting with Marc Davis was the last time that Marc Davis would ever see Walt Disney on this planet.

Plans for the ski resort dried up with Walt’s passing, but as you all know, Walt Disney World continued on, and it was decided that the Country Bear Jamboree would be an opening day attraction at the Magic Kingdom when it opened.  When it opened, the reviews were so favorable that it was immediately decided to put a version of it at Disneyland — this is one of the few attractions that I know of that opened at Walt Disney World before it opened at Disneyland.

The Country Bear Jamboree is not an attraction that I need to see every time we are at Walt Disney World, but it is one that I enjoy watching every couple of years or so.  The audio-animatronic characters, coupled with the the atmosphere of the show, and the music, just adds up to an attraction that is full of country goodness!  Additionally, if you are visiting the Magic Kingdom during a hot summer’s day, getting in out of the heat is well worth it!

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IMG_8179 So what do you think about the Country Bear Jamboree?  Do you have any changes in opinion based on the background information I found?  If so, please let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!

 

Exploring the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse

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One of my favorite attractions at the Magic Kingdom is the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.  This man made treehouse and tree, with it’s 116 steps, looks like a real tree, but in reality, it’s made up out of steel, concrete, and stucco!

One of the best things about the treehouse is how many details there are.  This is a walk-through attraction, so you can travel at your own pace, and since it’s been here since opening day, in this day and age it doesn’t have a lot of traffic — so you can take your time and look at things in a leisurely pace.

Measuring 60 feet tall, and 90 feet wide, this tree offers up some of the most incredible views of points of the Magic Kingdom.  For example, I particularly like this shot of Space Mountain, which you may not have realized you would be able to see from there.

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What really makes this attraction for me is that, when I am taking a tour of it, I am able to lose myself in the book and the movie.  There are so many incredible details that the Imagineers have put into place that really make this attraction special to me.  Here is a picture from up top, looking down at the entrance, where you can see the water pulley system.  This is really cool to me, what about you?

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I have often speculated with Cindy and Sophie about where you would sleep if you could spend the night in the Magic Kingdom.  That place, if I had my way, would be the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.  In fact, it was one of the points I mentioned during a Magical Blogorail Post back in March.

In so many ways, the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse is a throwback to a different time at Disney.  As you all know, the world outside of Disney has exploded around all of us — there is so much you can do, and the world is so much smaller.  I think, because of how busy and fast paced the world is, attractions such as Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse will always have a draw to people like me who like to slow down when they are on vacation.

Tell me, please: what do you think about the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse?  Please let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

The Walt Disney World Railroad – A Magic Kingdom Original

The Roy O. Disney

The Roy O. Disney

There is so much to talk about when it comes to the Walt Disney World Railroad, I hardly know where to begin!  As most of you know, Walt Disney was an avid railroad enthusiast, and even had a train setup in his backyard!  It was called the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, and he loved to navigate around his yard on his trains!  Additionally, as you all know, Mickey Mouse was created by Walt Disney as he was on a train from New York, after he lost the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to Universal.  So it is no surprise that Walt Disney incorporated trains at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

The Walt Disney World Railroad was in operation on Day One, October 1, 1971.  The four main locomotives were built between 1916 and 1928 by Baldwin Locomotive Works.

No. 1 Train: “Walter E. Disney”

Of course, the number one train in the fleet at Walt Disney World was the Walter E. Disney, a 4-6-0 “Ten Wheeler”.  This train was built in 1925, and is identical to the No. 3 Train that I’ll discuss in a bit.

No. 2 Train: “Lilly Belle”

This train, built in 1928, the same year that Mickey Mouse was created, is a 2-6-0 “Mogul” train.

No. 3 Train: “Roger E. Broggie”

Roger Broggie was instrumental in acquiring the locomotives for Walt Disney World, and in fact, actually worked with Walt on building the Carolwood Pacific Railroad line in Walt’s backyard.  The No. 1 train and the No. 3 train are one serial number apart, and as such, they are known as the “twins.”

No. 4 Train: “Roy O. Disney”

This locomotive is a 4-4-0 “American” built in 1916, and is the oldest of the four trains.  When the trains were being named, the story goes that the Imagineers asked Roy if he wanted to have his name on the No. 3 Train since they were identical.  Roy declined, saying that he “didn’t want to be compared to all the great things Walt had done.”  This blogger would like to tell Roy that he did some pretty great things himself.

Train Operation

The Walt Disney World Railroad has three stops — one at Main Street, U.S.A., one at Frontierland, and one at Fantasyland, which used to be the stop for Mickey’s Toontown Fair.  You can get on and off at any of the three locations, and you can also, to the best of my knowledge, stay on the train for multiple loops around the Magic Kingdom.  One complete loop around the Park is about 20 minutes in length.

The Walt Disney World Railroad plays an instrumental role during the Magic Kingdom “Rope Drop” ceremony that opens the park.  Mickey, Minnie, and a whole slew of characters will welcome you to the park, and Mickey will count down from 10 for the park to open!

Conclusion

The Walt Disney World Railroad is a classic Disney attraction, and is well worth taking a ride on.  As you navigate the park, you’ll see special areas that the Imagineers have created to feature on the ride.  This relaxing trip will allow you to take a load off your feet while still enjoying all that Disney has to offer.  Enjoy!

I’m sharing this post as part of the #ThrowbackThursday post from my friends over at Frontierland Station! Here are the links, click on them and check out the great entries!

Thanks, and make it a Disney Day everyone!